Collaboration in Afterschool = Engagement in Learning

How afterschool programs and community partnerships work together to support student success was the subject of a Capitol Hill briefing earlier this month. A panel of education experts, afterschool providers and community partners discussed how afterschool programs can help schools move beyond the constraints of the traditional school day and embrace the community, capitalizing on the resources, assets, and perspectives of organizations and individuals outside the school.

Afterschool Alliance Vice President of Policy and Research Jen Rinehart said that quality afterschool programs that involve strong partnerships between schools, community-based organizations and corporations help young people master 21st century skills, give them positive educational experiences, and prepare them for college and careers. Regina Schofield, corporate engagement and education outreach director at Battelle, echoed those sentiments and said: “It’s out-of-school time that enhances learning.”

Patricia Rodgers, a high school student from Bristol, New Hampshire, spoke eloquently about how becoming involved with an afterschool program saved her life. Patricia said she was struggling in middle school, both academically and socially, but when she started attending the afterschool program, she found stability as well as friends and people who understood her. “I don’t know what I’m going to do when I graduate high school. I really love my afterschool program,” Rodgers said.

The panel also included: Dr. Sharon J. Washington, executive director, National Writing Project; Dr. Diane Waff, director, Philadelphia Writing Project; and Elizabeth Colby, afterschool director, Newfound Area School District, New Hampshire, and an Afterschool Ambassador.

The National Writing Project and the Newfound Area School District offered examples of successful local partnerships formed between afterschool programs and community organizations like museums, churches, schools, and local businesses. Speakers said that, in New Hampshire and across the country, these partnerships offer youth expanded learning opportunities that complement and enrich the school day, but also allow students to explore their communities.

The briefing was hosted by the Afterschool Alliance and the National Writing Project and was sponsored by the Senate Afterschool Caucus. Read more about it on the Afterschool Snack blog.

This story originally appeared in the Afterschool Advocate (Vol. 13, Issue 9).

Click here to read the rest of this issue.